Dress A Day Says: Two Thumbs Up!


Joan Bennett in Vogues of 1938

So. Yes. I'm not sure where yesterday went, either — if anyone sees a missing Wednesday (with or without a note pinned to it that says "return to Erin: reward"), would you send it along to me? I'm afraid it's out there somewhere lost and lonely.

But, Lost Wednesday (so much less desperate, thankfully, than a Lost Weekend) aside — I did manage to see this wonderful movie, Vogues of 1938, on the kind recommendation of friend-of-the-blog Deborah.

Vogues of 1938 — and don't let the title fool you, it was made in 1937 — is, as far as I can tell, a movie made solely to put on a fashion show (or two, or three). The plot is as slim as the lead, Joan Bennett (and that's saying something) but there's wonderful repartee — as when Joan, thwarted in her desire for The Guy, hands off her fashion show trophy (fashion show trophy!) to a maid, saying "My hands are full carrying a torch!" Sigh. Why can't you get away with lines like that in real life?

The clothes are sumptuous in that movie-glamour way, and the title card of the designers involved takes up a whole screen, not that I recognized any of their names. The movie also includes significant close-up shots of a lucky thimble, a Russian prince and a petulant titan of industry, truly shocking quantities (to modern eyes) of furs and cigarettes, as well as unintentional humor (at least, I think it was unintentional), when a crooner dedicates a whole song to "Lady of the evening … lady of the night" which is not, in fact, about a prostitute. (Or, if it was, she was way beyond even Spitzer's budget.) And a horse-drawn milk wagon. And a fairly random Cotton Club interlude. And a kind of cut-rate Marx Brothers-ish trio. This movie is PACKED.

Oh — and did I mention? — there's a several-minute interlude of TRICK ROLLER-SKATING. On a raised platform, in evening dress, if you please. (In the movie, the impresario of the failed musical for which the skaters are auditioning tells his would-be ingénue that, in the show, "they'll be dressed as bunnies.")

I recommend watching this movie while doing something else undemanding and just coming to full attention when either Joan Bennett or the roller-skating couple is on the screen, or when you hear the fashion-show music.

So: in short: Dress A Day says "Two Thumbs Up!" Add it to your Netflix queue today!

(The picture of Joan Bennett above is from a total eye-candy wonderland, Evening Gowns Vintage and New, uploaded to some site I've never heard of — does "Webshots" ring a bell for anyone? — but well worth checking out.)

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25 thoughts on “Dress A Day Says: Two Thumbs Up!

  1. For some reason, this post reminds me of a book that you should check out, titled The Spy Wore Red. It’s written by an actual countess who was an American spy in WWII, but she was a model in her former life. Many of her descriptions in the book include what she was wearing to parties at her post in Spain (vintage Balenciaga, among others). It’s been years since I have read it, but I might just have to see if our library has a copy of it. There’s some debate how truthful her full account is… but the dresses alone are worth it!

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  2. amanda, I love the idea of a spy/model/countess in real life! That’s awesome. I bet it’s easy to be a spy if you’re a model and a countess because NO ONE WOULD SUSPECT YOU. Too high profile, etc. Just like dazzle camouflage. Erin, what a great movie review! It sounds like something my best friend and I would have been OBSESSED with in high school. Why didn’t I know about it then? Now I’m just going to have to force the fella to sit through it with me. OR bring it to Craft Night. Speaking of roller skates, have you seen ATL? I think it’s the best roller skating movie of all time. I had no idea it was going to be so good when I rented it for the “it’s my hometown” factor.

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  3. Well, if you’re gonna start a 1930s roller-skate movie peeing contest, Erin, stand back! http://knackeredhack.com/2007/09/27/astaire-way-to-heaven/I don’t usually stoop to such self-promotion, but this was too good a match.Take a moment or two to view the embedded clip – this has got to be the best ever song/skate combo in the history of film. It’s from ‘Shall We Dance’ which my local small independent cinema had the wisdom to show last week. Gershwin’s score is crammed full of classic numbers: They All Laughed, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, and of course Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off. Plot was a little curious, and not at all what I’d have expected purely from watching the song and dance clips. But, all-in-all, pure yumsville. Enjoy!

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  4. Oh, thanks so much for that Evening Gown link! I am always watching old movies while I list patterns and so often I want to match them up. This is great eye candy…makes my day!Tina

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  5. Wow, sounds like my kind of movie. I love movies with totally random elements like that (one fave is Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, which has all 60s A-line, miniskirted outfits – not my faves – but great use of color, singing and dancing, twins, a cameo by Gene Kelly, a missing father, and a serial killer). I think that’s why I love Almodovar – he’s the only contemporary director I can think of who combines an eye for color and interesting women and random plot elements like that.I also love love love the random dance/performance sequences in old movies – there’s one “Thin Man” in particular that has an amazing dance scene in the middle, I can never remember which one it is. But they’re all pretty great, and Myrna Loy’s gowns in the early ones are amazing (as are her hats in the later ones).And I love the fashion show sequence in “The Women”, and just recently watched “Singing in the Rain” on the big screen, and had totally forgotten about the random fashion-plate number in the middle. Priceless.Magic thimble!!!!

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  6. I think older fashion-show/clothes-horse movies were best left to the slender bunnies like Joan Bennett. Bette Davis starred opposite William Powell in Fashions of 1934 (which she totally hated), and while it’s a great movie for clothes and even just to see Bette and William Powell very young, it didn’t have the staying power that those actors, in particular, are known for. And it may’ve been a Busby Berkeley, but there were no rollerskates.

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  7. Dahling, the Judy Garland/Fred Astaire movie “Easter Parade” is no great shakes in the costume department (although it is a period picture, but they never let poor Judy wear anything bust-out glam). However, in the middle of it is a huge musical number called “The Girl On The Cover Of A Magazine”, which is a combination fashion show/and a way to remember magazines that no longer exist. Cosmopolitan, for one, has changed beyond recognition!

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  8. I’ve been meaning to post this and today is clearly the perfect opportunity.

    (1:36) and charming clip from the 1930s– American designers predict what the fashionable will be wearing in the year 2000.

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  9. Turner Classic Movies has this movie in their library. If enough people ask for it they will schedule it on their play list.

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  10. Janine Basinger’s book “A Woman’s View: How Hollywood spoke to women 1930-1960” has a really good chapter on how clothes were displayed and used as plot points in the golden era of cinema (although my personal favourite chapter is probably the one on evil twins!).It’s such a great book, really intersting, well researched and very funny in places.

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  11. So, on Netflix is lited as “Walter Wagner’s Vogues of 1938”, but it comes up on a search for ‘vogues’. It’s now at the top of my que for the next time hubby is out of town, thankyouverymuch.

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  12. Webshots! Old school. I think I used Webshots to host photos back before I used Photobucket, which was probably … 2002? Yikes.

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  13. Cut rate Marx Brother?That’s the Wiere Brothers.Even the Marx Brothers had to start somewhere. There were lots of “Brothers” acts, lifted from vaudeville into other entertainments. The Ritz Brothers. And Sister acts. Judy Garland started in a sister act, the Gumm sisters.Everyone wanted to make it big. Some are now almost totally forgotten. Vaudeville is almost totally forgotten too, which is a damn tragedy. Some of the funniest acts ever were in vaudeville.I’ve seen the Vogues of 1938, terrific film, actually, amusing characters! And luscious clothes of course.

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  14. There was a great thread on patternreview about movies and fashion.The movie The Women (not the remake!) has an excellent fashion show segment.

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  15. Neat movie and clothing! But how do you see this movie, download it?Re the Spy Wore Red, I read that awhile ago. I highly recommend it.

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  16. I love that movie! I may be mistaken, but I think there is more than one Vogues of 193x. Not a whole decade full, but perhaps another year or two.

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  17. This has nothing to do with today’s blog, but I thought you’d like know that the LIBERTY CONVERSE SHOES are one discount at the Converse Outlet Store site…I don’t remember if you’d already gotten them? ^^

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  18. I am gasping at the beauty of the gowns and photographs on that website — and have just spent over an hour looking at them! My girlfriends are likewise neglecting their work in favor of that fab website.I just added Walter Wagner’s Vogues of 1938 to my Netflix queue (will have to fight with hubby on this one!). And yes to the commenter who suggested *the original* THE WOMEN — my god, what an amazing movie, what thrilling acting, what glam gowns (all by Adrian), what cheeky, ahead-of-its time surrealism. It’s really a tour de force.

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  19. So Erin, were you being serious when you said you’d never heard of ‘Webshots’? My colleagues and I wasted way too much time and corporate bandwidth on that delightful little corner of the Net, in my former life as an inhabitant of Cubicle-Land. Eventually, they blocked the site on our network! Ah, well, what can you do? Good to be reminded of it!

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  20. Oooh!!! Great film!! I’ve recenntly aquired a gown designed by the house of Ben Reig, during the tenure of Omar Kiam who designed the costumes for that film. Exquisite!~Ang

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  21. This post must have really put a big overload in the Netflix system.I applied for this film the day of this post, and it finally arrived, 2 months later!!!It’s worth the wait, so get in line!

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